Just Checking

I awoke early for a Saturday.

The hustle and bustle of our busy home doesn’t take a weekend off. Zoe will eventually slip into our room gussied up in her nicest dress and tiny black shoes, ready to make a splash at our local Young Writer’s Workshop where she has the honor of reading her story about Captain Spy Bunny and his missing food bowl. She will come in and snuggle for a brief moment after my wife goes in and gently rouses her and helps her pull her white stockings on and reminds her to keep her dress down when she sits on the floor.

But first my wife must rouse herself. She sits up on the edge of the bed. I feel her shifting awake but don’t see her because I’m just laying there quietly, letting the day unfold a bit before I attack it with all the vim and vigor I can manage after a very long week. My breathing is shallow and I haven’t yet begun the morning coughing routine that christens a proper rousing. It feels good not to move.

I feel her hand on my forearm, her fingertips caressing their way down its length of warm flesh, where two of them come to rest on the inside of my wrist just above the thumb.

“Checking to see if my still alive?” I mumble.

“Yep. I gotta do that sometimes” she says gently before leaning over to give me a kiss and then rushing off to the bathroom.

I lay there for a moment and wonder how often she’s looked over at me while I’ve been sleeping and felt for the rush of air as I breathe. Or glanced at my chest just to see if it’s rising and falling. All those times when she’s shaken me awake . . . was she just checking to see if I was still around?

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